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OU gymnastics: Jake Dalton has potential for perfection at U.S. Olympic Trials

The Sooners star has scored a 16.8 vault — but could just as easily finish with a 17.0
By RJ Young Published: June 19, 2012
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NORMAN — Sticking one of the toughest vaults in gymnastics might be the difference whether or not Jake Dalton makes the U.S. Olympic Team.

The vault? One and a half flips with three twists.

Its start value? 17.0 points.

“The highest I've ever scored is a 16.8,” said Dalton, who will participate in the U.S. Olympic Trials from June 28 through July 1 in San Jose, Calif.

“I don't think anybody's ever gotten a perfect 17 out of a 17 yet that I know of.”

Dalton stuck the vault, landing at 2011 NCAA Men's Gymnastics Championships, but he received a deduction for a slight separation of his feet at takeoff.

This is not easy.

That's why Dalton's ability to throw and land the skill impresses U.S. men's national team coordinator Kevin Mazeika.

Mazeika was head coach of the 2004 and 2008 U.S. men's Olympic teams. He watched Dalton develop the vault during competition the last three years.

“It's one of the highest-rated vaults out there,” Mazeika said. “They're a lot of gymnasts that do a 21/2, but to add that extra half-twist, it's just really very hard. Jake makes it look easy. He has full mastery over that vault, and it's fun to watch him do it.”

Dalton followed winning the 2012 NCAA all-around championship with a solid performance in the VISA Championships. During his time at OU, he's become one of the program's most accomplished gymnasts.

But before he earned a place on the U.S. Senior Men's National Team — and before he was recruited by OU coach Mark Williams — Dalton was taught the fundamentals of the his high-scoring vault by OU assistant coach Guard Young.

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